Successful selection of newspapers for digitization is the result of combining judgments about the information value and completeness of available titles, with analysis of the image capture quality that is possible from a given set of microfilm. NDNP assumes that negative microfilm will play a leading role in digital image capture and that original paper copy will fill only a limited supporting role.

Image Quality in the Selection of Microfilm

Newspaper titles meeting intellectual selection criteria for high research value, geographic and temporal coverage must be of sufficient image quality on microfilm to yield satisfactory digital images and automated text conversion output. Poor quality microfilm and/or poorly prepared original material on microfilm will likely yield unsatisfactory results. See the NDNP Technical Guidelines for information on how to assess the quality of microfilm.

Research Value

The foremost reason for selection of an individual title for digitization is that the newspaper significantly reflects the political, economic and cultural history of the state. These include, but are not limited to, titles of statewide or regional influence and titles important as a source of information about a variety of ethnic, racial, political, economic, religious, or other special audiences or interest groups.

Preference should be given to titles that are recognized as "papers of record" at the state or county level and contain published legal notices, news of state and regional governmental affairs, and announcements of community news and events, including births, deaths, and marriages.

Geographic Representation

One objective of the NDNP is to ensure broad geographic representation of American newspapers in digital form. Preference should be given to titles that provide state or at least multi-county coverage.

Temporal Coverage

Titles that cover a geographic area or a group over long time periods are preferred over short-lived titles or titles with significant gaps. Titles may be selected for the time period 1690-1963 so long as they are confirmed to be in the public domain. Continuity is preferred over short runs or scattered issues.

In cases where more than one paper meets the research, geographic, and temporal criteria the selection committee may need to consider additional factors in making final decisions:

Bibliographic Completeness of Microfilm Copy

Newspapers issues will be scanned primarily from publicly available master microfilm. These files must be essentially complete within the 1690-1963 timeframe. Important titles with only sporadic issues on microfilm may not be good candidates. An almost complete microfilm file can be enhanced through the scanning of paper copies when available.

Orphan titles

Given the tremendous volume of newspaper material published before 1964, it is likely that both private and public efforts will be undertaken to make this material available in digital form. High research value titles that have ceased publication and lack active ownership likely to invest in future digital conversion should receive special consideration for NDNP. However, for newspapers published after 1923, only titles in the public domain may be considered for selection. For titles with registered or renewed copyrights 1923-1963, inability to locate the copyright holder (so called “orphaned works”) is NOT the same as public domain. Such titles should be excluded from selection.


Newspaper titles that document a significant minority community at the state or regional level should be considered as a means to balance content. Any newspapers that contain text written in any language with a valid ISO 639-2 language code ( may be included. Search engine support may vary by language as detailed in the Library of Congress technical guidelines.


Newspapers titles that have already been converted to digital form may not be a good candidate for inclusion, but applicants may justify selecting such a paper in special circumstances.

Last Updated: 08/04/2016